All posts by Brent Stubbs

is a father of five (+ 1 in heaven), husband of one, convert, and a generally interested person. He has a BA in Theology, studied graduate philosophy, has an MBA, is a writer (or so he tells himself) and prefers his coffee black. His website is Almost Not Catholic. His Twitter handle is @2bcatholic. His favorite color is blue.

Are you just a mother?

We’ve all heard the new modern meme*: You’re just a mom?

or

You are just a mom!

or

Are you just a mom?

or

Oh, you are just a mom.

I put a question mark at the end of that first iteration for a reason. Today, more than ever, women — mothers in particular — find themselves being questioned. A job, a vocation, that for time immemorial was immortalized in various  cultural symbols (the most contemporary or popular one being “Mother Earth”) has now become second fiddle, third chair, in the middle school band. It used to be enough, as a woman, to want to grow up and be a mother. (Enough in a very qualified sense that I will talk about in a moment, so if you are thinking about launching into the combox at this point stop yourself.) And despite our new cultural premonition, the toy doll section at Target is still chalked full of evidence that culture nouveau cannot get the traditional ghosts out of our machine.

Enemy of progress: Meme #1,493 of the DevolutionEnemy of progress: Meme #1,493 of the Devolution

Questions. There is nothing wrong with them, but laden in every question is an assumption. To “question everything” (to parrot a popular meme) is to first assume a position in the world of judgment. Further, this position of judgment assumes a vantage that allows one to see something that no one may have seen before. Philosophical rabbit trail ended now.

Do we really know something about women today that we did not know at some other time? In some sense, we do. I would be out-of-line if I failed to acknowledge the misogynist tendency of some parts of western culture. In an apparent show of deference, we patronized women, patting them gently on the head so that they wouldn’t mess up their pretty little curls or hurt themselves on physics, politics or philosophy. That was a bad idea, and one that we have corrected. In fact, today more women are earning college degrees than men. However, I am unclear how that is a satisfying fact. Since 51% of the population in the US is women, I would not mind it being 51%, but I don’t see how women outperforming men is any more satisfying then men outperforming women.

I did not know we were in competition with each other.

Which is the assumption in all of this confusion. Fact: I, as a man, can never be a mother. I cannot file a lawsuit, start a petition on us.gov or any such hogwash in an attempt to become a mother. At this point, they have no way of transplanting a womb into my body, and I am fairly certain that women would be up in arms if someday we told them that being a mother was just a matter of hormones and organs. Meaning that even if I had gender re-assignment surgery and a transplanted womb, I am imaging a sharp objection to me being called mother — but I digress.

Let us then assume, that I can never be a mother. Good, I agree. See, we are not in competition with each other. “Separate but equal” is not an equivalent to “different but equal.” This is something that is lost in our culture. The concept that ended segregation got mixed and mashed into meaning something it did not mean. For men and women to be different, somehow, means — in our culture — that we are unequal. That is our Huge Mistake. And, if gone uncorrected, will lead to the End of Our Story.

Why?

Because, God “made them male and female.” This is not some antiquated, outmoded idea. The fact that we are stating facts like “more women today are earning college degrees then…” proves that we know there is a difference. If there was no difference, such statistics would be meaningless. So, since men and women are different but have equal dignity and worth, and since a woman is uniquely fashioned to be a mother, then being a mother is important.

Very.

Today, however, women feel like second class if they just want to be a mother. It is not enough to raise the next generation — teach them how to read, be moral agents, develop social skills, and the like. So, no wonder that today’s kids perform more poorly in school, are less moral, and less able to interact with each other in normal ways. We did it to ourselves. We did it to ourselves when we demoted motherhood from that great office shared with the Blessed Virgin and Earth itself. Now, motherhood is for the female who couldn’t cut it in law school, sell the next gizmo, or master calculus.

But, Brent, can’t a woman do both?

That’s not the point of this post. The point is for the woman who “only” wants to be a mother. Remember, “different but equal” is true, and “separate but equal” is false. The qualification of the word “only” and “just”, ultimately, will be the mark of the fall or rise of this country. When women’s, my wife for example, place in society as mother is elevated to the prestige of CEO, our children will thrive again. And, so will women. Why? Because we will be affirming (one of) their unique genius, their differenceand thereby gaining all that God intended in that difference. Plus, people would stop saying stupid things like, “Oh, you are just a mother.”

IMG_1770Wife and CEO, er, Mother.

 

*the word meme basically means a small idea or concept that becomes popularized somehow. The word “meme” is an example of a meme since only a decade ago, no one really used the word in popular parlance. In an effort to dignify stupidity, the word meme was introduced as a way of legitimizing pointless dribble uploaded all over the internets.  – staff

Newtown: A Lesson on Giving Thanks

Dear Fellow Parents,

Tragedy has its way of undoing tightly wound things. If anything at all, the depot we pull into this day has completely changed. Everything is new about this town, or at least it should be…after Newtown. As parents, we have so much for which to be thankful, those of us who still hold our children at night. So let me take this brief moment to give you a new list for which we can all count our blessings:

  • Extra drinks of water at bed time…
  • …that lead to middle of the night pee-pee’s
  • Bandaids for invisible boo-boo’s
  • Breaking up a fight between siblings
  • Too much dirt under the fingernails…
  • …transfered to the sofa
  • A dumped batch of almost baked cookies
  • A screaming baby
  • A blow-out diaper
  • A chance to discipline…again
  • Markers on the walls
  • A stalemate over broccoli
  • Mass from the narthex
  • Consecutive milk spills
  • The futility of “cleaning up”
  • A restless vacation
  • A screaming baby
  • A midnight trip to the 24-hour clinic
  • Spilled popcorn all over freshly vacuumed carpet
  • Obstinance on the cookie aisle
  • Needing to go potty, one last time (this is happening right now)
  • Needing to go potty, one last time again
  • Night fears that cannot be calmed except for a kiss…
  • …or maybe you have to sleep on the floor
  • An aching back
  • Worrying about college

And these are all the things we complain about as parents. These are the things that burn up our already mostly spent fuses. Tightly wound, we are, and a word entered our vernacular that broke up the knot in our stomach and replaced it with a new one:

Newtown.

It is hard to imagine, in the face of such senseless, incomprehensible evil, how we can learn anything good at all. Like a woman standing before her Thanksgiving day best trampled upon all over the kitchen floor by a pack of Rottweilers let in through the back door, we look at Newtown and just shake our heads: aghast, angry, confused, bewildered and sickened. There is nothing we can learn — we are helpless in the face of such reckless, unpredictable evil.

Still yet, and setting aside the politically charged conversation that could ensue, let us return to the list. I beg you — Dad & Mom — take this moment, right now, to thank God for what you have. Take it, to embrace the extra milk on the floor, the revolving door that is dirty laundry, and fighting siblings. Embrace it. Because there is no promise that it will all remain the same. As parents we should get this, because our ultimate goal is to raise little angels that will fly away from us. Ours is a fleeting job. Yet fleeting is precisely what this world is — hanging by a string of existence it borrows from a Creator  it mostly ignores.

So, don’t ignore them. Don’t evade them. Don’t “put up” with them.

Love them.

Because life is short.

 

Since life is short, consider doing something to support the victims of Newtown:

Counseling Services Fund

Help with Funeral Costs

Support to the Grieving Families

 

Why We Cry For The Pope

(among other things)

Why do we act like this?

To our dear separated brothers and sisters, nothing comes across as more counterintuitive to the Christian religion than the Pope. The great german theologian, Karl Adam, gestured at this notion — that the Pope is the real hanging chad of ecumenical dialog — at the end of his diamond-of-a-book, The Roots of the Reformation. He is right.

Protestantism simply cannot comprehend the Pope. Of course, that does not mean that the concept of the papacy does not loom large in their theology. I”ve argued elsewhere that it is partly a matter of drinking too much of the home-made papal brew. We might also blame the way myth works: first the reality, then the lore, then the meme that just won”t go away. So it is with the Pope, and tails, and talisman and the like. For you know, of course, that the pope is the anti-Christ, eats children, and owns the world.

I mean, what”s not to like?

So it is no wonder that there are many out there who simply cannot shake the ghosts out of their schismatic motherboards. Which is why I would like to take this moment to explain why Catholics cry, sing, dance, and holler upon seeing — in this episode — a small, bavarian, grey haired man. Youth, old women, statesmen, and small children, gathered in the streets just to get a glimpse of “Papa”. This is really weird, right? I mean, it is giving me the Holy Ghost bujeebers.

I bind you Pope!

Despite our separated sistas inclinations, and far from idolatry, our displays of affection for the Pope can best be understood casino online in two ways: the prophetic and the familial.

ALL IN THE FAMILY

As pastor of the Universal Church, the Pope is the manifestation of our unity. He is not the Church per se, we are the Church. Yet, we (plural) are one (singular). So, if the Church is God”s sacramental presence in the world, the Pope is the lighthouse of the body. He is like the grandfather at the family reunion. Everyone is gathered around him, not because he is the most important, but because none of it would be important without him. Without the old man, all we would have is the people we came with. Of course, this is no theological defense of the papacy. Just google-it to find one of those. Instead, I want my fair inquirer to understand what we mean by our affection. El papa romano means we are family — which ultimately means, we are one.

Pop a cork!

But not so fast, because ultimately there is a better reason for our joy, tears, and fog horns. Besides the symbol of our familial bond, the Pope is a symbol of our Savior”s power. We confess that He rose again — we believe the words of the eye witnesses. But, do we? Do we really believe that He rose?

HE”S ALIVE!

I do. And one big, fat, awesomely incredible reason is that the Pope is here. That”s right. The man with the tail, who owns the world, and has a secret pact with Lloyd”s of London is a type of proof that Jesus is alive. Let me explain.

If the Protestants are to have their story right, there is no good reason there is still a Pope. The Reformation did not promise just the best ideas, but the best religion. The Pope was the anti-Christ, is the anti-Christ, and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will have none of it. Or so goes the storyline. That is the storyline, right? The pope is dead, the pope is dead, the wicked witc…, uh, yeah, um, pope is dead.

(excuse me, excuse me)

Still here!

And in my book, there is really no good explanation for why we still have a Pope, other than the fact that Jesus is alive, He is working in His Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against Her. Come on, we have had bad popes. Really, like the kind of you-ain”t-gonna-make-it-past-this-one bad popes. So, either the cat has 28 lives or something is up.

We think something is up.

Actually, Someone.

So come on and don”t be a doubter.

Who I’m Voting For

because this guy deserves a chance

No, I will not write his name on the ballot. I believe that voting for a third party, a third person, is a symbolic act. In the case of a presidential election, a symbolic act is about as good as handing a symbolic cup of water to a man dying of thirst in the desert. I get the impulse. I’ll show em’! And then, when it is all said and done, did you get what you wanted? Maybe I’m too practical, too pragmatic, but I see no value in picking a third restaurant to eat at if by not voting for Olive Garden I will end up at the buffet at Luby’s.

This is a lot more serious than bad meatloaf.

Some people might call me a one-issue voter. So be it. I’m okay with that. My son, Luke, is okay with that too. Because when I stand before God, I will be happy to be labeled a one-issue voter. After all, God said:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” – Deuteronomy 30:19

You see, if I care for the poor, but not for the unborn poor, then my care for them is ad hoc, arbitrary and ultimately grounded in whim not principle — sappiness not concern. Decisions grounded in whim make for chaos, which is a good way to describe the moral landscape of our country today. One only need to go into a local parish and have a few conversations to agree.

You and I have a choice, and I’m not talking about Gary Johnson. As the Scriptures just said, on the issue of life, our descendants really are what is at stake. We want to fix social security and healthcare, and that is good. Nevertheless, our problem is that we have aborted the population that could have paid for those programs — not even to mention the research scientists who would have found a cure for diseases but instead ended up in a dumpster behind a “health care provider”. And there are more issues that trouble us like illegal immigration. Yet the great irony of illegal immigration is that it has forced us to pay for services for the millions of children that we never gave a chance to take their first breath. Sadly, some of them we let take their first breath only to greet them with brutality instead of love.

But God is not mocked. You reap what you sow. He is sending us the recibos.

So as I said, it really is that easy. As one party says:

“We call on the government to permanently ban all federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage.”

We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception.”

I’ve also heard another party say:

“[We] strongly and unequivocally support Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.” 

there is no “safe” way to kill me

Fellow American: “But, Brent, neither president can really make a difference! You are just a right-wing nut job.”

Me: “Thank you, sir. I agree that we don’t live in a dictatorship whereby the president can just willy-nilly make changes to large policy issues. For example, a president could never force Catholics to pay for contraception! (cough). Seriously, the point is that the president can appoint Supreme Court Judges.”

the fate of our children

Therefore, I ask you, fellow Catholics and fellow Americans, to vote.

And consider who is important, and Who is watching.

I know who I’m voting for.

When the Rubber Hits the Road

Subtitle:

How NFP is really hard.

Let us return to the title of this post, and do not push aside the double entendre. Go there. For nothing says qu

ite what I am trying to say in this post like the title. It is a good feeling because rarely does a title in the blogosphere ever truly hit the nail on the proverbial head.

Before your mind goes totally in the gutter, let me help you back onto the way. For starters, proponents of NFP do a really bad job of shooting straight. The crookedness of the rhetoric is not so much a deception, but many times a naiveté born in the fires of the sales meeting. The salesman with the ketchup popsicle just cannot wait to tell the woman in the white gloves how much she will love the way the red accents her shoes. So too, the college freshman or couple who have never had to actually practice NFP will boast of its blissful benefits. I hear it is even under 500 calories.

I know. I”ve talked like that before.

Poetry is a problem as well. There is nothing wrong with the poetic quality of the Theology of the Body, but there is a problem with people thinking that life is always like poetry. Life is not like poetry, and we know that for the very reason we like poetry and that really great musical score behind Downton Abbey. No. Life is 5 degrees flat most of the time — an aching back, a sick child, a glass that is half empty no matter what you say. Look, dangit! That glass clearly has only 3 ounces in it. That is real life — and it is why poetry is an escape that points us the Place that is in tune.

Let me be clear. NFP is better than its alternative. The rubber really must hit the road, because nothing could more counterintuitive to the sexual embrace than wrapping yourself in cellophane or jamming chemicals down your throat. There is of course that really medieval thing-a-ma-jigger that places itself at the impasse between life and death — thwarting the possibility of children with the precision of an American gladiator with one of those . Seriously folks, there is nothing like finding out over an episode of your favorite sitcom that your contraception has been recalled and that you or someone you love is in danger of having “serious heart or health problems“.

Sheesh.

Going natural might be what is best for you, but it does not mean that it is what is easiest for you. That, of course, is the illusion of modernity. Ease is the measurement of morality, thus all manner of malady and mental discord go by the wayside in a quid pro quo movement that leaves society with — to steal a phrase from NBC — a really “new normal”, and the rest of us holding the crazy bag. Like the man with three ounces in his glass, modern man chooses a three ounce glass to make him feel his glass is all right. Self control and self restraint are difficult, even painful. But who needs that when my therapist tells me that both are a social construct.

Bye bye sin. Welcome to wacky land.

But you and I know there is sin. God — a Word beyond poetic capture — became flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld His glory and beat him, spit upon him, and crucified Him.

Not Easy

And kind of like that go around, NFP is difficult. It is hard. It is a Cross. The world is selling easy, and the Church — empowered by the Spirit that hovered over the void, bringing forth an almost infinitude of matter over the course of a long travail — is selling reality. The real. It is just beyond the grasp of psychoanalysis, just too difficult for the physicist to conceptualize. It is lying in a manger, and we are too busy trying to TiVo the last season of Madmen. Even technology doesn”t make it easy enough.

We can never get enough, and while the insatiable desire can point us to an infinite otherness, it can also speak to our stupidity. We are like men gathered around a newly formed pool after a summer rain, hoping that it will irrigate the cracked soil enough for a new crop. Yet just like the pool quickly evaporates, so too does everything that this world promises. We are not gnostics, I admit, but that does not mean we are hedonists. And if modern man struggles between two extremes it is those two — to be a bodiless ghost or a spiritless body.

I am a married father of five. We will have been married ten years this December. Our kids range from 6 years to 2 months. At this moment in our lives, trying to balance homeschooling, paying the bills, raising our kids in the faith, et. al., we feel God calling us to take a respite. We believe God wants us to steward what He has given us. That, of course, does not mean we are cutting ourselves off from life, but rather embracing that which we have been given. Either road is suffering, but only the road of obedience leads to salvation. That, salvation, is what God is selling, or rather offering — as a gift.

The point of this little quasi-essay is to encourage those who might read it to “be of good cheer”. The Servant who was rejected understands the burden of the Cross. You are not alone on this path. He asked you to take it up. That said, He promises that you will not receive more than you can handle. His grace is sufficient.

There are blogs out there dedicated to the way-cool-awesomeness of NFP. There are poems that have been written about the complementarity of the husband-wife union. There are songs and sonnets that could be produced lauding the transcendent beauty of jargon otherwise not known to those outside of certain cliques. That is not this blog post. This blog post is to remind all of us that God is calling us to a Cross — and for some it is marriage. The joy we are to have, the peace, is not because of the circumstances of the moment to which we are called — for it is truly a Moment.

What I mean is that all of us, young and old, single and married, come to a place in our lives where the proverbial rubber hits the proverbial road. Some less proverbial than others (cough, cough). The point, nevertheless, is that faith without works is dead — and that the Moment provides for us an opportunity to live that which we profess in the Creed. If God did come, if He is the Maker, and is planning on returning and all the rest, we might want to live like it. That is a sobering message, but it is the truth.

I know that I may have just rained on someone”s NFP-is-the-best-thing-since-pre-sliced-bagels parade, but never mind that. It rains on the just and unjust, so we should not be surprised. Rain is only terrible if you get caught in it unprepared. I hope this post helps some of you either in marriage or preparing for marriage to have an umbrella — because the rain is coming. That is reality.

Peace to you on your journey

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Subtitle:
How NFP is really hard.
Let us return to the title of this post, and do not push aside the double entendre. Go there. For nothing says quite what I am trying to say in this post like the title. It is a good feeling because rarely does a title in the blogosphere ever truly hit the nail on the proverbial head.
Before your mind goes totally in the gutter, let me help you back onto the way. For starters, proponents of NFP do a really bad job of shooting straight. The crookedness of the rhetoric is not so much a deception, but many times a naiveté born in the fires of the sales meeting. The salesman with the ketchup popsicle just cannot wait to tell the woman in the white gloves how much she will love the way the red accents her shoes. So too, the college freshman or couple who have never had to actually practice NFP will boast of its blissful benefits. I hear it is even under 500 calories.
I know. I”ve talked like that before.
Poetry is a problem as well. There is nothing wrong with the poetic quality of the Theology of the Body, but there is a problem with people thinking that life is always like poetry. Life is not like poetry, and we know that for the very reason we like poetry and that really great musical score behind Downton Abbey. No. Life is 5 degrees flat most of the time — an aching back, a sick child, a glass that is half empty no matter what you say. Look, dangit! That glass clearly has only 3 ounces in it. That is real life — and it is why poetry is an escape that points us the Place that is in tune.
Let me be clear. NFP is better than its alternative. The rubber really must hit the road, because nothing could more counterintuitive to the sexual embrace than wrapping yourself in cellophane or jamming chemicals down your throat. There is of course that really medieval thing-a-ma-jigger that places itself at the impasse between life and death — thwarting the possibility of children with the precision of an American gladiator with one of those cue tip things. Seriously folks, there is nothing like finding out over an episode of your favorite sitcom that your contraception has been recalled and that you or someone you love is in danger of having “serious heart or health problems”.
Sheesh.
Going natural might be what is best for you, but it does not mean that it is what is easiest for you. That, of course, is the illusion of modernity. Ease is the measurement of morality, thus all manner of malady and mental discord go by the wayside in a quid pro quo movement that leaves society with — to steal a phrase from NBC — a really “new normal”, and the rest of us holding the crazy bag. Like the man with three ounces in his glass, modern man chooses a three ounce glass to make him feel his glass is all right. Self control and self restraint are difficult, even painful. But who needs that when my therapist tells me that both are a social construct.
Bye bye sin. Welcome to wacky land.
But you and I know there is sin. God — a Word beyond poetic capture — became flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld His glory and beat him, spit upon him, and crucified Him.

Not EasyAnd kind of like that go around, NFP is difficult. It is hard. It is a Cross. The world is selling easy, and the Church — empowered by the Spirit that hovered over the void, bringing forth an almost infinitude of matter over the course of a long travail — is selling reality. The real. It is just beyond the grasp of psychoanalysis, just too difficult for the physicist to conceptualize. It is lying in a manger, and we are too busy trying to TiVo the last season of Madmen. Even technology doesn”t make it easy enough.
We can never get enough, and while the insatiable desire can point us to an infinite otherness, it can also speak to our stupidity. We are like men gathered around a newly formed pool after a summer rain, hoping that it will irrigate the cracked soil enough for a new crop. Yet just like the pool quickly evaporates, so too does everything that this world promises. We are not gnostics, I admit, but that does not mean we are hedonists. And if modern man struggles between two extremes it is those two — to be a bodiless ghost or a spiritless body.
I am a married father of five. We will have been married ten years this December. Our kids range from 6 years to 2 months. At this moment in our lives, trying to balance homeschooling, paying the bills, raising our kids in the faith, et. al., we feel God calling us to take a respite. We believe God wants us to steward what He has given us. That, of course, does not mean we are cutting ourselves off from life, but rather embracing that which we have been given. Either road is suffering, but only the road of obedience leads to salvation. That, salvation, is what God is selling, or rather offering — as a gift.
The point of this little quasi-essay is to encourage those who might read it to “be of good cheer”. The Servant who was rejected understands the burden of the Cross. You are not alone on this path. He asked you to take it up. That said, He promises that you will not receive more than you can handle. His grace is sufficient.
There are blogs out there dedicated to the way-cool-awesomeness of NFP. There are poems that have been written about the complementarity of the husband-wife union. There are songs and sonnets that could be produced lauding the transcendent beauty of jargon otherwise not known to those outside of certain cliques. That is not this blog post. This blog post is to remind all of us that God is calling us to a Cross — and for some it is marriage. The joy we are to have, the peace, is not because of the circumstances of the moment to which we are called — for it is truly a Moment.
What I mean is that all of us, young and old, single and married, come to a place in our lives where the proverbial rubber hits the proverbial road. Some less proverbial than others (cough, cough). The point, nevertheless, is that faith without works is dead — and that the Moment provides for us an opportunity to live that which we profess in the Creed. If God did come, if He is the Maker, and is planning on returning and all the rest, we might want to live like it. That is a sobering message, but it is the truth.
I know that I may have just rained on someone”s NFP-is-the-best-thing-since-pre-sliced-bagels parade, but never mind that. It rains on the just and unjust, so we should not be surprised. Rain is only terrible if you get caught in it unprepared. I hope this post helps some of you either in marriage or preparing for marriage to have an umbrella — because the rain is coming. That is reality.
Peace to you on your journey

Path:

3 Reasons Why Jesus Would Be Rejected

Are three reasons why people reject the Catholic Church today. I”ve been thinking about this for some time, ruminating about the common objections I hear against Catholicism. They can be summarized in three distinct yet overlapping categories: ontological, moral and epistemic.

On the first, many deny that the Catholic Church is who She says She is. This is the ontological objection. They deny the “who” and therefore dismiss Her as a fraud or mere denomination. The second, the moral, is the complaint that the Catholic Church is full of sinners. Luther had this problem — although he admitted his solution did not fix it per se, just covered it up with snow (insert laugh) — and so too today, especially in lieu of the abuse scandal, is the Church riddled with accusations — true as it is — of being a house of sinners. We are teeming with them. Lastly, the epistemic complaint is that the Catholic Church claims to always be right, to speak with infallible veracity — or so it goes. I know better, says the reply, the Bible tells me so, looky here, or something like it is leveled against what appears on the outside an egomaniacal power-play. Who does the Catholic Church think she is?

Of course, all of these complaints could be leveled against Christ. In that way, the Catholic Church can claim She is eerily similar to Her head. [Hold your objections for a moment and keep reading] On one point the analogy seems to go afoul as Christ is not full of sin, but I will explain the parallel in a moment. Let”s consider these three objections, not so much with the Catholic Church in mind, but rather with Christ himself as our referent. I will then return to the Church and ask you to consider how the logic of the objections (notice I did not say legitimacy) against Christ have equal force upon the Church.

Again, I am emphasizing the logic of the objections as distinct from the factual legitimacy of the objections. I make this distinction because generally we accept or reject a statement based on the former. We almost never have the facts before us nor have we properly investigated them. Therefore, we consider the logic of a statement, and upon those merits, accept it or reject it. What is at stake then is the first push-back many non-Catholics have regarding Catholicism, which is at the level of logic not evidence. What I will show is that the Christian objector to Catholicism does not fairly apply this logic and has likely not considered the evidence, something I am not claiming will necessarily require them to become Catholic but will hopefully make their objections to Her less canard-like.

1. Who Jesus was

Can He Be God?

He was either–as C.S. Lewis put–a lunatic, liar or Lord. Anyone who claims they are God can only be one of the three: Lord if True, liar if sane or purely mad. It did not matter whether or not you thought Christ”s teaching was true or false. Not to say that in his teaching men were not compelled to believe. However, men are compelled to believe all kinds of things by preaching. Our Lord knew that about us, it is why he described us as little chicks in need of a mother hen or as dumb sheep.

At the heart of it, we must believe that Christ is God. This belief is the foundation for every other belief. This is an act of faith, warranted by both the supernatural work of grace in our heart by the Holy Spirit and the evidence of this claim as corroborated by: (1) the prophecies Christ fulfilled, (2) His supernatural life and most importantly (3) His death, burial and RESURRECTION. Yes, truly in the resurrection — his power to conquer death — can we know He is who he says he is.

2. Who He picked as His disciples

The Doubter

Jesus did not pick the brightest bunch. Even if you just gloss over the New Testament, it is pretty evident that his team is regularly missing the point. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit in Acts, things got better. However, the one who denied Christ thrice is back at it again, pretending he would not eat with Gentiles. Sheesh! This was the guy Jesus adamantly asked to “Feed my sheep”, prayed that His faith would not fail Him, and changed his name like the patriarch of the First Covenant (Abraham).

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Judas fellow. Not so good. Sold his soul to the devil. So imagine yourself a first century Jew. This Jesus is claiming He is God and His crew is a bunch of rag-tag, epic fail sorts, who are petulant at times (“who”s going to be first?”) and one of whom is a devil. Would not the Jews have good reason to say something like this:

“Jesus, we really like you, but clearly you are not the One you say you are. We know God exists, but I just can”t follow your team. They are way too dysfunctional. I just want to go back to a simple life of private prayer. You know, me, myself and God.”

3. His Authority

It would have been nice had Jesus said. “You have heard that “X”, and you are right!!!” Instead we get things like “Woe (curse) unto you, if….” and “You have heard that “X”, but I say!

“Jesus is like way too judgmental” (chomping on gum)

Jesus did not mince words. He also did not leave things up for debate or discussion. He taught definitively and explained to His disciples in such a way that they could understand. The Gospels are a proverbial chest full of short, easy sayings to understand but hard to swallow. Not sure what God thinks about the poor? What is our obligation to those in prison? What about divorce? Jesus lays the wood on all of these counts. He is no university professor. He is the Word of God and His intended audience is you and I. He makes no qualms about His credentials and promises that the Holy Spirit would come to assist His Church to both “teach all things” and “remind them of what He had said” (John 14:26).

Interestingly enough, many scholars have shown that Jesus took some pretty big liberties in interpreting the Old Testament. We grant Him those liberties because…well…He”s God! However, the point I am implying is that it is precisely because of His ontology (God) that we accept His interpretive decisions. We do not accept them because they are the only reasonable interpretations of the passages. In other words, reasonable men can disagree with Christ. Faithful men cannot. Christ”s interpretive decisions are not unreasonable but they are also not rationally unassailable. God did not give the self-pious man that easy of a way out. No. By submitting to Christ and through submission alone, we see the inestimable wisdom of Jesus”s words; not merely through some process of self-reflection.

The Church: The Great Scandal of Christ

One of Her Doctors

Christ”s Church today is rejected for the same reasons He was. First, many just do not believe She is who She says She is. The miraculous history of the Church, human albeit but miraculous nonetheless, is a sign of contradiction in the world. Her prophetic witness just by Her existence seems to evidence that Christ has Risen and has imbued His Church with that same power. Despite schism, internal conflict, bad-bad leaders (at times) and treacherous followers, the Catholic Church is still here. Yep, still here. Every generation has written Her off. The second-generation Reformation project assumed that She would just go away.

This Blow Did Not Finish Her Off

Here She is. Out of the tomb and alive and kicking.

Do you believe that Christ”s Church is the one he founded? If not, why do you practice your faith in a church founded by someone other than Christ? Have you considered the preponderance of the mere existence of the Catholic Church and the improbability of her existence through mere natural powers?

Second, many reject Christ”s Church because of her followers and leaders. Just like the first century Jews, they have strong grounds to walk away simply because the Church”s members are not that impressive. For example, if the same percentage of Catholic Bishops were devils like say Judas, that would be 425 turn-coat Bishops. Ave Maria! The United States only has 390 Bishops!

Do you reject the Catholic Church because of the sexual abuse by some priests and the protection of those priests by some Bishops? (See: Abuse in Context–ALL COMMENTS WILL BE DELETED THAT DO NOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THIS LINK) Is the Catholic Church not credible to you because her members are so sinful? Because a high percentage of Catholics in the US practice contraception which is explicitly condemned by the Church? Do the sins of the few cloud any possible vision of the beauty and holiness of the many? Moreover, does the human fragility of this Church, that She acts as a hospital for sinners, somehow get out of focus Her divine origin and supernatural guidance and protection?

Lastly, the Catholic Church is the only Church in the world that teaches like Christ. I will grant you that it could be just a big charade. However, it should be noted that the Scriptures witness both our Lord”s admonition to listen to the Pharisees when they are on the seat of Moses (Matthew 23:2) and the idea that “he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:29). Since we know that the word “scribes” is co-extensive with Pharisees (from Mark”s treatment), what gives? The point is that Jesus is the new Temple and new Seat of Moses. He is Truth. When He passed off His keys to His steward St. Peter, He knew that he (St. Peter) too would have to sit on His seat–the Chair of St. Peter. This seat is temporary but necessary until the Return of the King.Jesus”s ministry started in the old temple, opening the scroll, and infallibly declaring “this is that” which Isaiah prophesied. The Church”s ministry, ingrafted into the new Temple (Christ) began the same way, only this time St. Peter was sitting in the new Chair, infallibly declaring “this is that” which Joel prophesied. I think it is more than coincidence that the New Testament witnesses the continual hypocrisy of St. Peter even after the coming of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord made sure to instruct those who were listening to pay attention to those who sat on the Seat of Moses. In their ears, his admonition resonated but not at the new covenant level it should have. Our Lord was preparing them for the attention they needed to give to the new seat, and it is laid bare in Scripture the obvious parallel between our Lord”s actions and St. Peter”s.

Lastly, the trajectory of Catholic dogma has been such as to run parallel but opposite to the current of society. While society has been steadily tracking to hold to a subjectivist, relativist view of reality, the Catholic Church solidified her understanding of the infallible nature of the teaching authority of the Magisterium.Scandalous. What a great shock to the modern ears! Infallible? Hasn”t psychology, history, natural science and philosophy proven this impossible?

What a gross over-statement.

The point of all of this is a simple observation: The Catholic Church is rejected for many of the same reasons one would reject Christ. 

  • They reject the Church”s teachings because they fail to appreciate “who” She is
  • They reject the Church because sinners are in Her fold
  • They reject the Church”s teachings because they are too dogmatic

Lord Jesus, grant us faith to believe. Amen.

Catholic Mangate

This post is a response to When NCB Meets NCG.

I thought it would be appropriate for an actual Good Catholic Man (father of five, husband of one, provider, dater-of-wife, and one who is approaching 10 years of marriage this December) to respond to what one seraphic writer described as “a bull in the china shop of the heart.”

Before I begin, let me remind my emotive readers that I already wrote on the topic of marriage, and the role of men today. Yesterday, in fact, I told men to take up their diapers and follow me. If you read those two articles (and a few others), you might notice a trend in my thought. I believe that men find themselves in a really awkward place in the modern world. This place simultaneously emasculates them and then gives them the worst examples of machismo manhood imaginable. In turn, modern man is weak, even with a bowie knife and flannel shirt on, dancing around in the image of Men’s Health — abs and all. It’s awkward, for women, and nothing makes this reality more apparent when some average looking dude walks down the street sporting some miss-USA bride.

“Why not me?” modern man bemoans, not realizing that women want men and what modern man has become is something far less than really manly. Even if we grant that it is man’s primal instinct to reproduce, then it is woman’s instinct to care for that reproduction. Therefore, a Nice Catholic Girl (NCG) might be cautious about who she is going to share the cave with. Let’s consider the author’s proposed dilemma for NCG:

The trouble is, however, that if you look around the venues in which one is likely to meet an NCG, you are likely to find that there is a decided shortage of Nice Catholic Boys (NCB). In other words, the girls outnumber the boys. The NCB’s on their part, generally fall into three categories:
1) The Seminarian. Definitely the smallest category, and correlatively the most awesome.
2) The Taken Guys. These are either married (almost as rare as the seminarians. They tend to get whisked off to other realms.) Or the guys with girlfriends.
3) The Unattached. These are the guys who are the enigma of the group. They seem to be NCB’s. At least they are showing up to Mass or Bible study, or that Catholic group (or maybe they are only showing up to Mass and leaving immediately afterwards. But that’s something isn’t it?)…

The author then goes on to say:

Men just aren’t as anxious as women usually are to get married and start a family, but in other ages this didn’t seem to be much of an obstacle. If the only way a young man is going to have sex is to marry, this becomes a powerful incentive towards marriage. But in our present age we have the phenomenon of a whole generation of men who are (apparently) living the Church’s teaching in this regard, but without the incentive to seek out a Catholic woman to marry. Why?

The Reasons:

1. Wants to play on the internet
2. Lack of maturity
3. The amount of time, energy, and money it takes to get a career started

All of this amounts to a lack of prioritization. The author wants us to believe that the problem is that NCG’s aren’t ready for Good Catholic Men (GCM). However, I reject this premise. In fact, this premise seems more like one postulated by one of The Unattached, and that modern manhood has told him that because he shoots a bow, has big biceps, and a good job, HE IS MAN. Watch him roar! Rarrr!!!!!!!!! (which might not be the case, but I’m just relaying my impression)

And so, the little lioness, only ever playing with the lion cubs, is scared to death that big, strong, Lion-man will rip her to pieces. He is so untamable, so not-into-you-and-your-girly-stuff, and so the stand-off persists. Now, to be fair, the author made a great observation. A real GCM will be a real man. I believe the Catholic faith opens men up to the possibility of being a real man, despite everything our culture is telling them. The culture, of course, proposes two extremes: doormat or deadbolt. On the former, man clips his wife’s toenails while reading Danielle Steel, meeting his guy friends for a play-date, and checking out the latest sale on avocado cargo shorts at Express for Men. On the latter, man is spilling beer all over his wife-#9!*x-tee, on his way to the mailbox to pick up this month’s Field & Stream — all the while stepping over piles of unfolded laundry and dirty kid or two (he’s not sure exactly how many he has).

Depending on which lie you have bought, one of those two caricatures will actually bring a smile to your face. And, if you examine your heart, one will foster affection. The affection you have for one of those two scenarios directly represents the way in which “the pattern of the world” has shaped your heart. In those areas, we must be transformed by “the renewing of our mind”. Which means, men, we must repent.

Moreover, the author’s definition of a GCM fails to appreciate his vocation. If you are a man, you are either called to be single or married. If single, you are called to be celibate — either priest or lay. If married, you are called to be one with your spouse. So, a definition that says:

A true GCM is never going to belong entirely to his wife. He will have another life outside. He will have a vocation that is not you, and it will be his life’s work.

is so utterly lacking in proper connection to one’s vocation, I barely need to critique it. My work is never done in isolation from my wife. I work for my family. That is what a GCM called to marriage does. It is why I must be very cautious around single women at work. My dedication to my family — not my biceps, brains, or defined jaw — is the most attractive thing imaginable. Home-wreckers, check yourself before you wreck yourself. All that semi-silliness aside, the modern dead-bolt man works for himself, because although he thinks he is different than self-obsessed metro-man, he is just like him. His obsession with his work as an end for itself — divorced from its proper relationship to family (aghast!) — is a true sign that modern man is no more man then he is a thing, on object. For, it is precisely man’s relationship to that defines the unique creature God made him. We are not islands: men included.

Let’s continue:

The fact that he is striving to be a true man of God does not guarantee that he won’t leave the toilet seat up. It does not mean that he won’t find fart jokes hilarious. Some interpersonal drama that upsets your entire day may seem comically petty to him.

Sure, but that would just mean that he is not striving enough. That would mean that he fell short. Toilet seat?  That’s an honest mistake and one that his mother should likely take the blame for either way. But, being inconsiderate to your spouse is unacceptable. If interpersonal drama is “comically petty” then so is Notre Dame football — and no man would appreciate constant belittlement over every little cheer that rises up from the living room on Saturday afternoons in October.

The point of my little rant here is I want GCG’s to be of good cheer. There are men out there. There are. They realize that the fulfillment of their vocation of marriage terminates in you. Wait for that one. Some people think men should not “need” you, but that is wrong. Adam needed Eve. He was incomplete because his vocational calling was not yet realized. So too, the GCM called to marriage. Don’t settle for a boy, I agree, but also don’t settle for some dude who’s just “not that into you”.

My 2-cents.

A Man Who Wipes…

…Butts.

OR:

A Man Who Wipes Bottoms

(for those that find “butt” offensive)

What I am talking about is the awkward “line in the sand” that many the modern man draws in the proverbial kiddy-box. You see them here and there, passing off the wee lad or laddie as if it were a land-mine. What am I talking about? I”m talking about the modern man who declares to his [new] bride (he would never say this on a date with a girlfriend), “I don”t do diapers.”

Really?

Diapers?

Today, modern man finds himself in this really awkward place. He wants to be the man. In fact, he longs to be the man. Yet, he also finds himself in a world where he has been robbed of his farm, his plow, his gun, and has been handed a light beer and told that anything that is male-only is sexist, bigoted and the old world. But, the modern man has been informed, the old world has passed away and behold, .

Which of course complicates things. It is one thing to throw water balloons at a person. Quite another to throw water balloons at a blindfolded person. In this case, I will not grant that the modern man is blindfolded, only that he is playing a three legged race with himself. So, while watching someone douse someone else with a water ballon when blindfolded is bordering on the cruel, watching someone get knocked around with a water ballon when they are dragging around another person is actually quite funny.

That is what I see is the problem. Modern man wants to be the man, but instead of being either, he becomes self-crippled man. In that case, let”s launch away.

(Balloon one) For starters, any man who says he is too good to change a diaper fails to understand the most basic male instinct: utility. I like to think about it this way. Baby is dirty. Baby needs to be cleaned. I clean baby. Case closed. Last time I checked, nobody was wiping the guy”s bottom, so if he thinks he is too good to wipe a butt, I would suggest he go a whole day applying this principle to his rear-end. The manly utilitarian instinct will kick in — I promise — if someone doesn”t call the EPA first.

“I ain”t afraid of no diaper!”

(Balloon two) Secondly, don”t dream for a moment that Pa Ingalls wouldn”t clean up his son or daughter that found his or her britches soiled. I bring up “Pa” because modern man has this strange fascination with “ancient man”. He was so manly, so unlike metrosexual man. He was bursting forth with burly manliness — thresher, overalls and cool hat to boot, and therefore, he never changed a diaper. False. It simply does not follow. Or as us philosophers like to say, there is nothing in the premises to make the conclusion necessary. Okay, let”s break it down:

1. Child is soiled

2. Person A is a man

3. Therefore, person A will leave child soiled

LOGIC FAIL.

1. Child is soiled

2. Person A is a man

3. Therefore, man will clean child

LOGIC WIN!

(Balloon threeReally guys, what could be more attractive to your wife than changing a diaper? Seriously. This goes right up there with washing the shower. This is the stuff that studs are made of. Do I do this stuff with perfection and without fail? No way, I”m terribly human. But, seriously, if you are married and want to earn serious who-needs-fifty-shades-of-anything-when-I”ve-got-this-hunk bucks, change diapers. Now. Which leads me naturally to a discussion regarding the Gospel of Life.

Today, more than ever, we must all carry the torch of life. Life is under attack, if you didn”t know that already. Yet, we can win. And by win, I mean win big time. But, if you know anything at all about war, the collective victories are as important as the Waterloos. Even at our Waterloo moments, every battle is won in some kind of person-to-person combat. In turn, we must all ask ourselves, “What is and where will I find my piece of the action?” For fathers, I think that starts in the home. If we won”t change diapers, an instinct that says, “you are a human being who doesn”t deserve to be stinky nasty”, then what are we saying about life?

So, if you are a man who doesn”t “do” diapers, come off it.

Or rather, pick up your diaper and follow me (as I follow Christ).

Some Anglican I Used to Know

This blog post is a “live post”, written last night during Dr. Taylor Marshall”s newest episode on EWTN”s “The Journey Home“. If you know nothing about Dr. Taylor Marshall, you should start by visiting his blog Canterbury Tales, where he writes about Catholic dogma, history, and all things orthodox. Or, you can watch this video, or buy this book

not a picture of Taylor”s head

Here I am, on the couch, getting ready for the show. What to eat? A couch is just incomplete without an edible companion. Ah, raisins! You know you are a dad of soon-to-be-five kids when raisins sound like a good treat. Raisins are good for three reasons:

  • Sweet
  • Cheap
  • Easily Digestible

And, if you are a dad of soon-to-be five kids, you know that the last thing you need is bitter, expensive, and indigestion. All three of those come with the territory, without self-imposition. Plus, when you are a dad of soon-to-be five kids, raisins are typically the only thing left in the pantry by the end of the day.

Yum. Raisins. (that was a very Machiavellian “Yum”)

(Show begins!)

Self-deposed of his Anglican garb, Dr. Taylor Marshall is sporting a shirt and tie.

Taylor Marshall as an Anglican priest
Dr. Taylor Marshall as a Roman Catholic Professor of Philosophy and Dean at Fisher More Catholic College

Dr. Marshall: “I was not raised in a tradition…I had a conversion experience…began studying theology…and was attracted to Calvinism.”

So he became an Episcopal priest. It almost feels like a non-sequitur, but I digress.

Dr. Marshall admits that his conversion came about from his deep desire to partake of the Eucharist (Amen!). After his conversion, Dr. Marshall transitioned to DC, went on to do a Ph.D. at the University of Dallas (that”s in Irving, TX — where I actually met Taylor when I was there), and is now the Dean at Fisher More Catholic College (formerly St. Thomas More College).

Marcus Grodi (host): “What brought you into the Church?”

Dr. Marshall: “Authority.”

Marcus Grodi: “What was the biggest barrier for you?”

Dr. Marshall: “The biggest hold up to me was ordination. My whole life I felt a call, and then I found the Church Jesus founded, and found out that she had a celibate priesthood.”

Bummer. Counting the cost is never tough until you have to actually count the cost.

He goes on to point out the incredible amount of early Church leaders, from Apostles to patriarchs, who were celibate. Also, once he realized that he could be a saint as a lay — that God was calling him to sanctity apart from being a cleric — he became open to the idea of hanging up the colar and living as a lay Catholic. After all, St. Francis didn”t even think himself worthy to be ordained a priest!

Dr. Marshall made a really good point about half-way through the program. He mentioned that to be a really great priest, he would have to sacrifice his family. Think about it. Saying Mass. Hearing Confessions. Offering last rites. Visiting the sick. Where does a t-ball game, math homework, or the evening dance-recital in the living room (happens in my house) fit into all of that?

The point: It doesn”t.

The longer I”m Catholic, the more I”m convinced of the genius of the celibate priesthood. It is truly a gift.

(NOTE: I put down the raisins at 8:18 EST)

Marcus Grodi: “I think the biggest decision at the Reformation (with the biggest impact) was Luther”s rejection of the Church as a necessary channel of salvation.”

That”s right! As if Tetzel wasn”t bad enough, we end up with these guys.

(show is going to the break…)

(…show is coming back)

Our Lady

For many converts, Mary can be a real bugaboo. After all, if your Protestant sect keeps Mary in a shed until December 12th, drags her out, flicks on a light, and then drags her back to the shed promptly on December 26th, it makes sense that Catholic devotion to her would feel a bit off-kilter. To a Protestant, Mary is like a television set would be to an 18th century German: there is simply no context.

Dr. Marshall points out that Protestants have a “zero-sum” approach to the Blessed Virgin. They believe that your affection is like a pie, and that if you give that affection to Mary, then whatever part of the pie you took out to give to Mary now makes Jesus”s pie smaller.

However, this is the wrong view. For one, love grows not divides. I don”t have less love to give to my children because I have more children. In two-and-a-half weeks, I won”t tell my wife, “You can have little, precious Luke back sweetie, looks like I just don”t have any more love left in the tank” (insert smack). Just the opposite! My love grows every time I have another child. Similarly, Christ gives us His Church and His Mother to love in order to expand our capacity to love Him. Why?

Because His Church is His Body. They are “in Christ”. When Saul (soon to be St. Paul) was on the road to Damascus, he was confronted by a light. In this case, it was the Light of the World.

“Why do you persecute me?” the Light asked him. Persecute Christ? When did Saul ever pick up a stone to throw at Christ? When did he ever accuse Christ? But you see, Saul had picked up a stone or two and leveled an accusation once or twice against the Church. As such, Saul was guilty of persecuting our Lord, because in a mystical way, the Body of Christ participates in the life of Her Divine Head.

What about the rest of the show? The rest of the show was great. I won”t spoil it any more. I recommend you watch it. .

Good night. I need to brush my teeth. I have raisin breath.

[author] [author_image timthumb=”on”]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Brent-A.-Stubbs-e1313148902233.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Brent A. Stubbs is a father of four ( 1 in heaven and 1 in the oven), husband of one, convert, and a generally interested person. He has a BA in Theology, studied graduate philosophy, has an MBA, is a writer (or so he tells himself) and prefers his coffee black. His website is Almost Not Catholic.[/author_info] [/author]

Men: Be Courageous

Buckle-up. This might be a bumpy ride.

In my last post, I explored the topic of keeping your kids Catholic in a world gone mad. For the six people that “liked” it on the Facebook social plug-in, I say, “thank you.” Despite its relative anonymity, we had an interesting conversation unfold in the combox. For starters, I relented on a minor point: it is not a “facile” task to raise your kids Catholic. In fact, it is very difficult.

That said, I had asked what we could learn from someone who had already sojourned the difficult transition from infancy to pre-pubescence to puberty to the-in-between and finally to adulthood. She went by the handle “Perinatal Loss Nurse”, and by the end of the conversation we all felt a collective “loss”. Of course, I am boldly speaking for the “we”, but what emerged was a very difficult but common story of a mother who really did everything she could, and yet somehow her kids decided to walk away from the faith.

My heart breaks.

Then I asked, “Anyone want to comment about the role of fathers or the lack thereof?”

What followed was what I was looking for. Really, I knew it was lurking. Now, I hope I don’t offend “Perinatal Loss Nurse” or her husband. She seemed open to sharing, so I will share with you what she said:

“I bought my husband Steve Woods’ book on Catholic fathering (a great book) as a gift but he didnt open it til after the implosion. When he finally did, the first 3 or so chapters describe fatherhood in terms of being a good husband. Reading that book must have felt like getting stabbed with knives, he could only read a few pages at a time, at one point he said “when did you buy this?” ..it was years earlier…too bad he didnt read it.”

(What I’m about to say is not a direct commentary on Perinatal Loss Nurse or her husband. I don’t know enough of the details. Rather, her comment is simply a seque to what is next.)

In a long-forgotten post of mine, which ruffled a few feathers, I talked about the utter flaccidity of the modern male in his pursuit of a bride. Well, I’m here today to tell you that it doesn’t get much better once he drags her back to his cave. It all started a long time ago, and I am even willing to grant that many of the reasons a male today finds himself in such a neutered position are caused by forces external to him. I’m not here to give you a long history lesson, but I will recap for you the history of manhood in a brief picture show of pop-culture’s take on “being dad”:

Late 80's
Early 90's

 

mid to late 90's

A few of these shows spill over into the 2000’s, but I think you get the drift of what has been happening to the idea of “dad” over the last 30 years. If you were going to use a few adjectives or verbs to describe the dad of the last three decades, you would use: idiot, farting, inept, pleasure seeking, out-of-shape and irreligious. A New York Times columnist rightly identifies the not-so-over-the-top stereotype as “The Doofus Dad“.

I’m with him.

Where the heck did Steve Douglas of My Three Sons go? What happened to decisive leadership, paternal mentorship, and a stern yet loving hand of correction? Tragically, the forces of secular feminism in our culture have embraced the impotent man, no longer able to impregnate his family with the vital male (shriek, gasp) leadership for which it longs. Instead, we now get shaved-chest dad, HBO-subscribing dad, cut-the-lawn-on-Sunday dad, or check-out-that-lady’s-chest dad. And sadly, this idea of manhood and fatherhood has too long permeated American culture whereby now it has become acceptable even justifiable for men to act like brute animals; or worst yet little children. If that wasn’t enough, the secular feminists joined in the chuckle, dancing on the pole of careerism, thereby ensuring the family took a permanent back-seat in our society.

Child: “Mommy? Daddy? Where are you?”

Silence.

So what do we do?

Me and my daughter at her First Communion classes.

I can tell you. This is easy. Unlike raising kids, taking responsibility for your own life is easy. Okay, maybe easier. The point is that as men, we have to step up to the plate. Do it. Stop acting so weak, so powerless, and so immune to the world that is going on around you. Monthly fishing trips, ESPN, CoorsLight, and late hours at the office won’t surround you in the hospital when you are on your death bed. Hopefully, your family will. Life is not about the sum-total of all the stuff you can collect, but about the sum-total of all the souls you lead to heaven. That job starts in your home.

Invest in them.

Pray with them. Live a holy life in front of them. Ask for forgiveness. Know your faith. Go to Confession. Teach the faith to your children. Read books about parenting, and ask questions about being a dad…and about being a good husband. Be a good husband. Worker harder than you ever thought was possible. Ask for help: from the Lord, Our Lady, and St. Joseph.

In a phrase, be courageous.

Keeping Your Kids Catholic

First, let me start off this post with a disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: I’m a non-expert. I have little kids. Half of this is theory; the other half good intentions. Nonetheless, nothing goes better with the theme of “Mercy Killing” then a post about parenting. If I’m late to the “Mercy Killing” blog theme, I plead parenthood. Which for those of you without children means that half of my brain is consumed with irrational arguments about who gets the peanut butter first and whether or not the Big Bad Wolf is real.

I’m fairly certain you haven’t made the connection. What, you ask? Between “Mercy Killing” and parenting, of course. The connection is not that little instinct parents have to put a fussy kid out of his or her misery. That is not mercy, that is justice. Come on and give that kid a nap, already. Nonetheless, the connection between the theme of “Mercy Killing” and parenthood is simple: the Nazgûl are screaming overhead, the wall has been breached, and western civilization is crumbling all around us…

What parents see if they turn on the TV

…And some of us have kids.

Nothing is more frightening than a discussion about “Mercy Killing” than a discussion about “Mercy Killing”. What I mean is that when you are a parent, all of these abstractions — as my friend likes to wax all Danske about — cannot remain abstractions for more than a minute. You don’t talk about this stuff over carmel lattes, instead, it deserves Scotch — on the rocks. Times of war, where death and life are faced head-on —  lived in the tangible terminology of bravery, sacrifice and freedom, are times when the pub is the center-piece of the town. Today, Starbucks is our tavern, and that should tell us something about ourselves.

Because when you have kids, a latte won’t cut it. (I’m not advocating for drunkenness, I’m simply observing that we live in a time when life is viewed as a kind of light and fluffy cappuccino. The irony is that we are drinking these fraps smack-dab in the middle of Helm’s Deep.)

The culture of death (a.k.a., the culture of contraception) has impotently thrust upon western civilization more ills than I can recount in this post. Let me just point out an obvious one: children themselves have become an abstraction. We talk about them as an accessory, banding about little memes like: “They are the greatest things that can happen to you”. Even Catholics think about these “great things” in less than human terms, not because our faith or even our humanity informs the idea but rather that the culture we live in so forcefully, so programmatically, reinforces the theme. However, we are only victims of this pedagogical rhythm of death because we are sipping the lattes. So, naturally…

…put down your latte.

Which leads me back to the title of this post. In order to keep our kids Catholic, we have to reject that part of our society that is luring us into self-centered, materialistic, everything-is-okay-as-long-as-you-have-the-new-piece-of-tech way of living. That is the greatest enemy of our day. Great evils never lure the great masses, but it is the small vices that make the masses innocuous to the unthinkable. The Germans did not buy into gas chambers, they bought into labor inequality. Once they thought about the Jew in terms of an abstract obstacle to their economic flourishing, they could ignore the unthinkable as long as it was not wrought at their hands. We are at the same moment in history.

Pick up your faith.

You know what I’m talking about. That thing that has been laying in the corner for a few months. That is how we will keep our kids Catholic. Ce n’est pas très facile: We must remain Catholic. Through and through, there is no substitute for a faith lived, in public and private, with true devotion, piety, sincerity, and conviction. We cannot practice our faith sipping metaphorical lattes, because we do not live in such a time. The moment we declare a détente is the moment we lose. Don’t rest. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop fighting.

Because if anything, the culture of death has robed our society at large with the more specific bravery that comes necessarily with parenthood. It is no longer built into our fabric, but that doesn’t mean we have to give it up.

In fact, our faith and the times demand we do not.

 

Is the Internet Real?

Second question: If so, can we save it?

To the first, I think the question is rather odd. However, it is odd because it is assumed implicitly in the question we more commonly ask and the one that does not feel odd, or namely:

“Am I spending too much time online?”

This is a good question. This is an easy question. But, it is a question with an interesting implication and often not so directly but more so in how we think about it generally. I will propose to you that it is in our common sense thinking about it generally that we make the mistake. And, we can correct this mistake by using the same common sense thinking about our experience.

When we ruminate about our online experiences, we come to realize that we often contrast on-line experiences with their off-line counterparts. It is due to our natural inclination to antinomies (hot/cold, fast/slow, in/out). This dualistic way of thinking about on-versus-off line experience forms a strong paradigm that becomes a filter for how we think about either experience. In one way, this should immediately provide our intellect with a defeater for our mistake (keep reading, I’ll get there). Yet, in another way, the sharp contrast we make provides a “sort function” by which we allow ourselves to distinguish to the point of a false dichotomy. It is at the moment of the false dichotomy, the false antinomy, that the flaw of our common sense thinking is revealed.

What then in our experiences — both on-and-off-line — will provide the proper perspective to resist the false dichotomy? For starters and finishers, all of these experiences happen in reality! And, it is for that reason that I put forward to you that THE INTERNET IS REAL.

Duh.

Your REAL blog post provider

Seriously folks, I am typing this blog post sitting in a real chair, looking at a real computer, watching real characters pour onto a real screen at approximately 80wpm. You are also reading this in a state that should be obvious to you that is real. If the Internet is not real, if our experiences there do not constitute reality, if “virtual” really provides something sub-real, then I say that coloring a coloring page is not real. For if any of the aforementioned are not real, then when I sit down with a package of crayolas and disappear into the lines and counters of Tickle me Elmo armed with the color red, I am no longer living in the here and now. I have entered into that place where reality and fantasy are no longer distinguishable.

That’s dumb.

And yet I imagine that none of this post comes as a shock to you. You knew the Internet was real, but decided to read this because you thought the question was interesting. However, I’m not convinced that we think about the real-ness of the Internet quite like we should. To illustrate this point, let me describe to you what the world, off-line, might look like if it were lived like we act on-line:

  • 12% of all businesses would be strip clubs (% of websites that are porn sites)
  • 25% of every question someone would ask would be about sex (% of online searches for pornography in relationship to total searches)
  • 42.7% of people would ask to watch you or someone you know have sex with someone else (% of Internet users who watch pornography)
  • People would randomly mention “pedophile priest” in almost any conversation (go to any combox for evidence — I recently saw this in an ESPN article about football)
  • We would expect to see sexual predators lurking and openly soliciting children at almost any place young people congregate. (14% of children are solicited online)
  • A spy would be living in 50% of every home trying to steal important information from the homeowner or trying to cause harm to the home (% of computers infected with malware)

Let me submit to you a conclusion from this data: We don’t think the Internet is real so we pretend that we can do whatever we want to do without consequence. If we lived in the real world like we do “online”, the world would be a miserable place. But notice what I just did. I set up the false dichotomy!

In reality, the Internet is a part of our “real world”, and it is a fairly miserable place to live — the real world that is. You know the one with the Internet, not the one without the Internet. That was like so 1981.

So, can we save it?

What?

The Internet.

Answer: No

(for review, the first question’s answer is “yes”, the second’s is “no”)

Instead, we should think about it another way. We should realize that we are in need of saving, and we now find “us” more unregenerate than ever living in a place we call “online”. But, online isn’t a place. The desk that I’m sitting at and writing this post is a place. Topeka, Kansas is a place. People in places need saving.

Christ didn’t die for the Internet. He died for you and me even while we pretend — online — that what we do there does not in fact harm our eternal souls. However, there is no virtual heaven and hell. Only the off-line version.

So let’s use the Internet to keep people out of hell.

Hey, that might save the Internet after all.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Brent-A.-Stubbs-e1313148902233.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Brent A. Stubbs is a father of four (+ 1 in heaven and 1 in the oven), husband of one, convert, and a generally interested person. He has a BA in Theology, studied graduate philosophy, has an MBA, is a writer (or so he tells himself) and prefers his coffee black. His website is Almost Not Catholic.[/author_info] [/author]